Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

How to Help My Child Communicate

12/20/2016 | Published by: Sharon Brown

Having a child with disabilities has many daily challenges. Add in a child who is also nonverbal and frustration will be a daily battle. Luckily, I am raising my daughter in a day where there are many different options for communicating with her.

I have used multiple techniques throughout the years and never stay with just one way. There are so many ways that I communicate with my daughter.

When she was a toddler we began teaching her baby American Sign Language (ASL). We did this with all three of our children. It’s just what we did.

It is always important to get on the level of the child when they are trying to communicate. So if my daughter was down on the floor trying to communicate, I would get low and try to make eye contact. It is easier to talk to someone when you can see them.

A trick that helped her learn to make eye contact was putting a sticker on my forehead. Always remember, even though they are not talking, they still need to be spoken to. My daughter has always been able to understand more than she can communicate. I always treat nonverbal communication attempts seriously and try to figure out what she is trying to say.

As she got older, we used picture and word cards. You can take pictures of your child’s favorite toys, food and clothes and build them into a conversation. Different activities like eating and pottying should be on cards, too. Make cards and also write the word on it. Either put magnets or Velcro on the backs and hang them up where they are accessible to the child. Then they can bring you the picture of things they want or need.

Today, she also uses her iPad to communicate. There are a many choices of assistive communication applications (apps). Prices range greatly, as well. Also, if you cannot afford an iPad, there are many programs to help with this. These are easy to find when you do an internet search. Some of them are listed here on

My daughter’s favorite assistive communication app is Look2Learn. She uses it the most but she will still use some of the older methods as well.

It is good to have a few ways to communicate in case one way is lost or broken.